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Exercise During Pregnancy

August 1, 2022
Virtual Gynecology

For most pregnant women, it is safe to exercise during pregnancy. To a large extent, it has health benefits for you and your baby. However, talk to your doctor about exercising during pregnancy before you do. Certain types of exercise may cause harm to you or your baby.

How much exercise do I need during pregnancy?

Healthy pregnant women need at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly. In other words, you do not need to have 2½ hours of exercise at a single time. Instead, spread it over the week. You may have 30 minutes of exercise on most or all days.

Aerobic activities make you breathe faster and deeper and make your heart beat faster. However, ensure it is moderate-intensity where you are active enough to sweat and have your heart beat faster.

Don't forget to take breaks if you need them. Listen to your body.

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

Regular physical activity in healthy pregnant women provides the following benefits:

  • Keeps your body fit.
  • Makes you feel good and motivated.
  • Helps you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
  • Serves as a relief to some common discomforts of pregnancy, such as back pain, swelling, and constipation.
  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Helps manage stress.
  • Reduces your risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. 
  • Reduces your risk of having a cesarean birth (C-section).
  • Provides energy and strength from pregnancy through labor and birth 
  • Provides you with ways to relieve anxiety and pain for easier labor and childbirth. 

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Types of Exercise to do during Pregnancy

Not all exercise is good for pregnant women. Some may be too intense and cause more harm than good to both mother and baby.

Examples of exercises that pregnant women can do and benefit from include:

Brisk walking

Brisk walking is a simple and great workout for any pregnant woman.

Swimming and water workouts

Water is easy on your joints and muscles and relieves pain and tension. As you swim or do water workouts, the water supports your weight and that of your baby.

Riding a stationary bike

A stationary bike is preferred to a regular bike because there is a reduced risk of falls and injury.

Yoga and Pilates classes

You can sign up in gyms or community centers that offer prenatal yoga and Pilates classes. If there are no specialized gyms, tell your yoga instructor that you are pregnant to avoid dangerous poses such as lying on your belly or flat on your back (after the first trimester). 

Low-impact aerobics classes

Low-impact aerobics do not put a lot of strain on your joints and muscles. You will always have one foot on the ground or equipment. Examples are walking, riding a stationary bike, and using an elliptical machine. Tell your instructor you are pregnant so that you avoid high-impact exercises like running, skipping, and doing jumping jacks. 

Strength training

Working with weights is safe during pregnancy as long as they're not too heavy. Strength training helps you build stronger bones and muscles.

Normal activities of daily living

You do not have to belong to a gym to exercise during pregnancy. You can take advantage of your normal daily activities at home. Do an active hobby like gardening, taking the stairs, dancing to music, etc.

Avoid exercise or activities:

  • At high altitudes as they reduce the amount of oxygen available for you and your baby.
  • That makes you lie flat on your back or turn on your belly, 
  • That makes you prone to jerky movements and falls such as horse riding, skating, gymnastics, or downhill skiing.
  • That exposes you to hits in the belly, such as hockey, basketball, and boxing.
  • In the sun, on hot days, or in higher temperatures.

Other activities to avoid include diving, water skiing, skydiving or scuba diving, and surfing.

Who should avoid exercise during pregnancy?

If you are pregnant and have the following conditions, please avoid exercise:

  • Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia
  • Cervical insufficiency or a cerclage
  • Multiple pregnancies (pregnant with twins or more babies)
  • Severe anemia
  • Placenta previa 
  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Preterm labor and water breaking
  • Certain heart or lung conditions

Pregnant? We're here to help you

A visit to us helps you get your prenatal care started while you await your appointment with your local OB doctor. Your virtual physician can help to electronically order prenatal care labs and/or send an order to the nearest radiology facility for you to get an ultrasound.

At My Virtual Physician, we are available to help guide you through your pregnancy and answer any questions that may arise. We are in network with many insurance health plans, including Medicaid, Medicare, United HealthCare, and Blue Cross. 

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